Daryl Dwayne Holloway left Green Bay Correctional Institution one day after Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Wagner signed the order over turning the conviction and freeing him. Wagner had presided over the wrongful conviction in 1993.
The decision came after prosecutors in the Milwaukee County district attorney’s office agreed that DNA results showed Holloway’s conviction in the 1992 case should be reversed, according to a news release from the Wisconsin Innocence Project.
“It’s another example of the way in which the criminal justice system, as a human system, can produce errors,” Keith Findley, co-director of the Wisconsin Innocence Project, said in a phone interview.
The Innocence Project credited the district attorney’s office for reviving the case. Now-retired Assistant District Attorney Norm Gahn reviewed the case file in April 2015 and found conflicting DNA reports from separate labs, meaning at least one lab made an error in its analysis, the news release stated.
A new DNA report conclusively excluded Holloway as the perpetrator of the crime and identified the presence of male DNA from an unknown third party, according to the Innocence Project.
“It fits a typical pattern in which eyewitness evidence was used to obtain the conviction and as it turns out the eye witness evidence was pretty unreliable,” said Findley, who also is a University of Wisconsin-Madison law professor.
He praised the prosecutors for taking on the case and serving as “ministers of justice, not just advocate for convictions.”
Findley and a team of law students who worked on the case met Holloway when he was released Wednesday morning.
“Make better choices before convicting people, make sure you’ve got the right evidence, because when you do this, people lose,” Holloway told reporters during interviews that were streamed live on Facebook.
“Everybody loses — victims, me — I’ve been victimized,” he said, before adding: “I’m trying to rebuild my life now.”
Right away, Holloway noticed massive changes in technology, from the reporters streaming his interview to the self-checkout lane at Walmart where Findley and others took him to buy clothes.
“It’s a whole new world for him, but he is marveling at what it feels like to be free again,” Findley said.
Currently, Wisconsin law provides exonerated inmates no more than $5,000 for each lost year of their life, up to a total of $25,000. Of the states with laws providing for payments to the wrongfully convicted, Wisconsin has the lowest amount per year. Bipartisan efforts to boost the compensation have stalled in recent years. Findley said he expected it to come up again during the Legislature’s next session.